Apple brandy krempita

This dessert was an evolution of a previous post I made. Krempita is a Montenegrin dessert that consists of layers of phyllo dough and custard. It is similar to a napoleon, a mille feuille, or Greek galaktoboureko in that sense of being flaky pastry with a custard-y filling. This interpretation of it takes that Montenegrin classic and turns it on its side(quite literally). There are several layers of phyllo enrobing several layers of custard, creating this thin tube of phyllo and custard that very much tastes like krempita, but not at all resembling it. Using apple brandy(also called calvados), I infused it into homemade phyllo dough and a brown butter that I used throughout this dessert, just to breath new life into it. The alcohol in the brandy relaxes the glutens in the phyllo, making it easier to rest and roll out, while using the brandy in the brown butter, which is brushed between the layers of the phyllo, causes the alcohol between the layers to evaporate, keeping every layer of phyllo distinct and crunchy. All in all, the apple brandy works hand in hand with the phyllo to create a lot of texture in the dough, while also making the process of making phyllo from scratch all the more doable! You can also sub it out with other kinds of liquor as well, and change up the flavor profile that way(using frangelico or hazelnut liquor with this would taste fantastic!).

For the different components, we have an apple brandy-infused phyllo sandwiching a brown butter-mascarpone custard, an apple brandy-miso caramel, flambeed apples, and shaved green apples. While the phyllo and the custard are what comprise the krempita, the other components are there to tie back in with the usage of the apple brandy, and round out the plated dessert as an entire concept, as opposed to just a bakery item. This entire recipe hinges on the apple brandy-infused brown butter, as that is used in almost every component, besides the shaved green apples. With the custard, it is whipped with mascarpone and finished with the brown butter to give it a luscious texture, but a feathery-light finish. The caramel is infused with miso to add a nice punch of salt and umami, which combined with the complexity of the liquor, gives the dessert depth that you would not normally expect from something where the only baked component are thin disks of pastry. The idea to flambe the apples was only done to add actual apples into the dessert, while also intensifying the flavor of the apple by cooking it down in a liquor that is made from it. With the shaved green apple, that was there to add some freshness and some crunchy, with a little bit of acidity. I felt like with a dessert that is so rich and hearty, something light and crisp, while also tying back to the apple, was needed and welcome to round out the textures of this dish!

Makes 3 portions:
For the apple brandy brown butter:
1 stick unsalted butter
2 tbsp apple brandy

In a nonstick pan, heat up the butter until it reaches an amber brown color. Take off heat and allow the butter to cool down for 3 minutes before adding in the brandy. The butter may fizz and bubble at this point, but just let it do its thing until it stops. Reserve the pan so that you can flambe your apples in there(this will impart a lot of toasted flavor onto the apples)!

For the phyllo:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, with more for rolling
2 tbsp apple brandy
3 tbsp cold water
a pinch of salt
apple brandy brown butter

In a bowl, mix together the flour, apple brandy, cold water, and salt to form your dough. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Roll each piece out on a floured surface to a 6-inch disk. Rest the dough for 5 minutes. Brush three of the disks generously with the still-melted brown butter. Stack the disks together so that the top disk is the one that you did not brush butter with yet. Roll out the dough as thin as possible and transfer to a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet. Cut out 1-inch disks from the dough, brushing the tops of the disks with more brown butter. Place on top of the dough another silpat or parchment sheet and another baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Cool down the disks before using.

For the the mascarpone custard:
1/2 cup milk
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp granulated sugar
a pinch of salt
2 tbsp apple brandy brown butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
3oz mascarpone cheese

In a pot, heat up the milk on medium-low heat. In a bowl, whip together the eggs, cornstarch, sugar, salt, and brown butter. Mix half of the milk into the eggs while whisking. Then pour the egg mixture back into the pot with the milk and continue to whisk on medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture begins to cling to the sides of your whisk. Pass through a strainer and mix into the strained custard your vanilla and mascarpone to finish. Transfer into a piping bag and keep refrigerated for plating.

For the apple brandy-miso caramel:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp apple brandy
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp miso paste
2 tbsp apple brandy brown butter

In a pan, heat up the sugar until it turns golden brown. Pour in the apple brandy and milk first, then the other ingredients. Stir on high heat until the sugar fully dissolves into the liquid. Then turn to low heat. Keep the caramel warm for plating. If it gets too thick(you want it to be oozy like lava), add in water, milk, or apple juice, 1 tbsp at a time, to adjust the consistency!

For the flambeed apple:
1/2 a green apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 6 wedges
Pan that was used to make the apple brandy brown butter
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp apple brandy

Sear the apples in the pan on medium heat, seasoning the apples with salt. Once the wedges are seared on both sides, add in the brandy and carefully tilt the pan, allowing the flames to touch the liquid to flambe the apples. The flame will slowly die out, and the apples will be done. Transfer to a cutting board and cut each wedge into thirds to serve.

For the shaved green apple:
The other half of the green apple
a pinch of salt
cold water

Shave the green apple on a mandolin. Cut into disks using circle cutters and store in cold salted water for plating.

To plate:
Start with a round of the caramel on the bottom of the plate. Pipe dollops of the custard on 6 disks of phyllo and stack them together(you should have 7 disks of phyllo surrounding 6 dollops of custard) to form your krempita. Place the krempita on the side to form a tube and plate that next to the round of caramel. Around the caramel, place 3 segments of flambeed apple, and 2 pipings of the custard. Garnish with the shaved green apple to finish.

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